Parallel Prairies

Parallel Prairies cover

Update: The book now appears on the publisher’s site.

Some­time this fall, my short sto­ry “Vin­cent and Char­lie” will appear in Great Plains Pub­li­ca­tions’ new anthol­o­gy Par­al­lel Prairies edit­ed by Dar­ren Ridge­ly and Adam Petrash.

My story’s ele­va­tor pitch is “ET, with a retired farmer with demen­tia in the role of Elliott”.

Pre-order from: McNal­ly Robin­son |

Once I have more details about how & where to order, launch­es, etc, I’ll be sure to post them.

The Island of Dr. Death

Cover image, from Ultan's Library

I just got notice that the book I request­ed via Inter-Library Loan—The Island of Dr. Death and Oth­er Sto­ries and Oth­er Sto­ries—has arrived at the desk. By cof­fee time I’ll have it in my hands, and by evening I’ll be read­ing some Gene Wolfe short sto­ries.

I’m prob­a­bly more excit­ed about this than I should be, but then I’m a late-in-life Wolfe con­vert, and I’ve got a lot of catch­ing up to do.

Wolfe is the one that once tore to shreds a pret­ty com­mon writ­ing trope—call­ing some­thing inde­scrib­able when it isn’t real­ly—and then, I like to think, poked fun at his own advice a few years lat­er in a dif­fer­ent nov­el. I’ve seen him described more than once as the writer’s writer, and I look for­ward to read­ing some of his short works.

Series: Gene Wolfe

The entire series: The Gold­en Sen­tence; A les­son in a line; Inde­scrib­able; My head’s swim­ming now; The Island of Dr. Death.

Some birth-year words

Thanks to Merriam-Webster’s “Time Trav­el­er” fea­ture, I now know that the fol­low­ing words’ and phras­es’ first record­ed use hap­pened the year I was born:

And dozens of oth­ers, too. How about you?

(Maybe lat­er I’ll indulge in a caipir­in­ha.)

14th try’s the charm

I real­ly like my short sto­ry “The Overnight Shift”. I wrote it last sum­mer, in a week­end, at the start of my 2016 writer’s retreat. It was orig­i­nal­ly writ­ten as a con­test entry in the NYC Mid­night flash fic­tion con­test.

Since I wrote it, I’ve been try­ing to sell it. It’s right at the 1,000-word mark, mak­ing it what they term flash fic­tion. There are a decent num­ber of pay­ing mar­kets for flash fic­tion, and I was start­ing to think I was going to have to try them all.


That is a screen­shot of my Sub­mis­sion Grinder screen for “The Overnight Shift”. The num­bers in the square brack­ets at the end? That’s [the num­ber of cur­rent open sub­mis­sions for a piece / the num­ber of sub­mis­sions this year / the num­ber of all-time sub­mis­sions]. Those 14 are all the times I’ve sent this piece out into the world. 13 times run­ning, it was reject­ed (twice it made it to the sec­ond round, where it was then pruned).

And final­ly, this week, I sold it. It will appear some­time in Novem­ber in The Arcan­ist, a rel­a­tive­ly new online SF/F ’zine fea­tur­ing flash fic­tion.

I’ll be sure to post here when it goes live. Trust me, you won’t be able to keep me qui­et about it.

Writing Retreat 2017

The Office -- writing at my friends' cabin

As is rapid­ly becom­ing tra­di­tion, I spent most of the last week of July in a friend’s cab­in up at Minnedosa. (Thanks, Karen & Ed!) My goals for the week are post­ed here, and here’s how it went:

Beat sheets for the major characters in Translations

I have a com­plete out­line for the POV’s arc, which is the most crit­i­cal as it’s nar­rat­ed in the first per­son.

Also, I had a major epiphany about the POV char­ac­ter, one that will shake up the last ⅔ of the book.

10,000 words in Translations

I wrote 12,500 words in Trans­la­tions, the bulk of it writ­ten as I sat on the deck, pret­ty much all alone in the cot­tage area.

At least a few shots of the Milky Way

Yeah, that turned out okay.

The Galaxy

Hav­ing access to a car this year real­ly helped me get to the dark places (lit­er­al­ly) so that I could get some great pho­tos of the night sky.

Also, I sold a print of one of my pho­tos to a friend. (Thanks, Bri­anne!) Does that mean I’m a pro now?

Lots of bike riding

Well. My bike’s left ped­al arm has been com­ing loose more and more fre­quent­ly. It’s got to go into the shop. On my first ride in Minnedosa, I had to stop twice to tight­en the ped­al arm, both times on my way up a hill. So after that, feh to bike rid­ing. (At least, my bike in its cur­rent con­di­tion.)

For­tu­nate­ly, I had access to a kayak (thanks, Car­la!), so I put in about 15 km of pad­dling time, going up and down the lake.

Stretch goals

I read James S. A. Corey’s amaz­ing Leviathan Wakes, cour­tesy of my pub­lic library’s e-book pro­gram. I’m now hooked, and need to read the rest of the Expanse saga.

I also re-read the first ⅔ of Gene Wolfe’s sub­tle and mys­te­ri­ous The Fifth Head of Cer­berus, which, I’m not gonna lie, prob­a­bly had at least a lit­tle bit to do with my afore­men­tioned epiphany. (It’s also the first Wolfe nov­el I’ve re-read, and it’s amaz­ing how much less con­fu­sion I feel, how much more I’m pick­ing up.)

And we bought a sec­ond car, which is why I could have a vehi­cle to go gal­li­van­tin’ around the coun­try­side, look­ing for dark loca­tions to get pho­tos like this:

The Galaxy

I think that went well.